Welcome! If you have clicked over from my post Professional Photographers’ Secrets For Amazing Family Pictures, you are in the right place! This is the second post in the four-part series that will teach you all the posing tips and tricks you need to get great family pictures! (To see all four posts, click here).
How to Pose for Family Pictures
- I usually try to pose families in the shape of a triangle. This can be a triangle with equal sides, or unequal sides.
In this picture, you can see that the family is arranged in a triangle where the sides are the same length. (Just trace a line down the heads of all the people, and you’ll see what I mean). The center of the triangle is the cute little red-headed girl in the back.
I actually really like to create asymmetrical triangles, like you see in the following pictures. I feel like it creates a dynamic movement and interest to the picture.
You can even do inverted triangles, like this:
2. Have people really close together, and turned slightly toward the center, especially the people on the end. You want the family to look like they love each other! The closer, the better! It’s time for everyone to give up their “personal space” and actually touch one another!
When people are turned toward the center, it keeps the focus on the family, rather than going outside the frame. In the picture above, you can see how the mom and the daughter are both really close to the dad and the son, and are slightly turned inward.
3. Bend a leg, hold hands, and thumbs in pockets. These are the little things that make a big difference in how good a family picture looks! I always tell people to put all their weight on one leg and just let the other one bend slightly. This is how we normally stand when we are relaxed and comfortable.
I also like to have people hold hands (especially if there are little kids who might want to run off!) Knowing what to do with their hands is tricky for most people! Some good ideas are to just hook one of your thumbs in a pants pocket, or put one hand on a hip or below the hip, where the top of your leg connects to your body. But you have to make sure that you are bending a leg and standing naturally! Otherwise, you’ll look like an angry person about to give a lecture!
In the picture below, you can see how everyone is bending one leg so they look relaxed and natural. Several of them have thumbs in their pockets, and the mom and daughter are holding hands.
Here, since there was such a height difference between the parents and their daughter, I had them all hold hands. It would have looked a little disconnected if the daughter had just been standing in front of her parents with no physical connection to them.
Avoid these things when posing for family pictures
- Putting hands around people’s backs, necks, or shoulders. You may love your family and want to give them a hug. Or you may just not know what to do with your hands. But I’m asking you to refrain from reaching your arm around your family members, because then you get “mystery hand syndrome.” This is where a random hand is peeking over someone’s shoulder, or is appearing on their stomach. As you can see, there is all kinds of weird going on in the picture of my girls below. But the hand sticking out of one side and the elbow out of the other side of my daughter’s head is particularly concerning! What to do instead: Hold hands or put your thumbs in your pockets.
- Standing straight forward with both legs locked. This is known as “Mummy Syndrome” (actually, I just made that up). This is our natural tendency when we get our pictures taken. We want to stand up straight and tall and face the camera! But this just makes people look uncomfortable and unnatural. What to do instead: Make sure you are putting all your weight on one leg, and that the other leg is slightly bent. Also, turn your body a little bit toward the center of the group.
- Lifting your head too high. Again, this is our natural tendency when we are told to “stand up straight.” Little kids especially will lift their chins clear up in the air when they are told this. What to do instead: Tilt your head down slightly so that you’re not showing a full view of your neck! This will also make your eyes open wider.
- Having big gaps between people. What to do instead: Get closer than you’re comfortable with! Trust me–it looks good! If a gap is absolutely necessary, try to connect people by having them hold hands.
I hope these tips will help during your next family photo shoot! I know it’s hard to remember everything, but if you can incorporate a few of these things into your posing, the pictures will turn out so much better! I
Be sure to check back for the third post in this series, Getting Kids to Cooperate for Family Pictures. And good luck with your next photo shoot!
You gave me some great tips. Thank you so much for your expertise.
Melissa Howell says
You’re welcome! I hope your next photo shoot is awesome!